Saturday, 2 January 2016

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Rise of the Teddy Bears

I've done it and just in bloody time too! I'm writing this with an hour until I get to see The Force Awakens (but I'm publishing it far later because I got sidetracked... oops). The saga is complete and though I can't say I've loved every minute of it, I do have a renewed appreciation for the world George Lucas created and even more so, the script writing of Lawrence Kasdan!

Return of the Jedi is loads of fun. People might bemoan the cuddly Ewoks, but I love them. Yes, Lucas knew they'd sell like teddy-bear hotcakes, but hell, what doesn't in the Star Wars universe? It's funny too how the film turns from being this seedy exploration of Jabba the Pimp's underworld on Tatooine to the much more cuddlier and friendlier tree-hugging moon of Endor.

I'd forgotten how sleazy everything round Jabba is. From the laughing little runt below to Leia's bikini and chain, it's all a bit hellish; like I've walked up in da club on the wrong side of town and all my friends have suddenly ditched me. Jabba's so damn bad, that he even has his own Han Solo poster hung on the wall. I wish that this scene could have been even grimier. I wish Lucas had really sunk into adult territory and we could have seen Jabba snorting the Tatooine equivalent of cocaine off Leia's tummy or something equally disturbing.

Before my mind gets too stuck in the gutter, we move on to muppets and teddy bears. It's back to Dagobah where we get to watch a ghostly Alec Guiness signing another pay cheque, Yoda gets the most boring death scene in the entire saga and then off to Endor for a violent teddy bear picnic. I don't know what Lucas did to that speeder chase through the forest, but even in the special editions, it still looks bloody rubbish. It's at this point I remember David Fincher worked on Return of the Jedi. Bet he's a little embarrassed by all this really. He'd have kept demanding more takes and the film would probably only just be being released this year.

Where's my money man?

Speaking of embarrassment, I can sense that Harrison Ford isn't happy about being surrounded by teddy bears. Han Solo doesn't really get the chance to be very cool while he's being upstaged by the furry critters. I don't care what fans say about the Ewoks, I think they rock. The Na'vi ain't got nothing on them, and I bet they cost a hell of a lot less to render. Shame we don't get an Ewok sex scenes though. Bet they do it like they do it on Discovery Channel.

Then after six films (three if you're trying to forget), it all comes down to Daddy Vader and his boy. The action might be happening on Endor, but high up in the stars is where the war is really happening. The war for Luke and Anakin's souls. I know people hate the prequels and I'm not going to pretend that they're not bloody awful in many places, but in parts of the original trilogy like this, memories of the prequels do add something special. Both Anakin and the Emperor have now been developed over six films and the relationship between them is given more depth by knowing the backstory created in the prequels. No, it's not necessary, but I think it is even more fascinating to watch. It's great to see Pappa Vader having a change of heart in the face of the the ex-Palpatine's supreme evil.

When Vader finally takes his mask off, I almost wish Lucas had done some of his digital tinkering here. Instead of this funny little egg man, we could have had one last look at Hayden Christensen's brooding concentration face. I know Vader's supposed to look a little pathetic by this point, but this guy looks really laughable.

Oh wait, we do get one last look at Hayden Christensen as a force ghost on Endor. I love the way Alec Guiness looks over at him, like 'Who the fuck are you?' Meanwhile, Hayden's guilty little smirk sort of looks like he's saying 'Sorry about all of this... really made a boo boo with all of this... sorry'. Best bit of acting in the saga, hands down.

Except this: Han's face when Leia tells him that Luke is her brother. This face says everything we've all been thinking. He looks like he's going to vomit. Now wouldn't that have been a killer ending?

The Highs and Lows of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Attacking Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

The Sith Hits the Fan: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars: The Original and Still the Best?

Star Wars: Empire Really Does Strike Back

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